Four key takeaways from London Tech Week
As a SAP Supply Chain Transformation consultant and, more broadly, an agent of digital change, I was greatly looking forward to London Tech Week – and it didn’t disappoint.
Current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak set the tone by staking the UK’s claim to be the natural hub for growing businesses and investment in generative technologies such as AI. He closed by highlighting the correlation between the need for continuous innovation and economic success. He confirmed the government’s commitment to invest £900 million in computer technology and £2.5 billion in quantum in the coming years – with a vision of becoming the world’s leading quantum-enabled economy by 2033. It was a hopeful and morale raising message.
From the sessions and panel discussions I attended, here are four key takeaways that will stay with me:
- Keeping human values at the heart of tech transformation – Technology is at the top of boardroom agendas across organisations and its potential to drive value across business models is clear. However, whilst leveraging emerging technologies like AI, it’s key to ensure that the ethical and moral frameworks underpinning it remain central to the approach. For example, in hearing about IBM’s experience of rolling out Watson X what stood out is that the human behind technology is where optimal value is reached.
- Generative AI – supporting not replacing people – In developing generative AI, governing principles must include privacy & security, inclusiveness, accountability, transparency, fairness and reliability. Digital debt in innovation can be combated if leaders are less focused on replacing or reducing jobs with AI, and more focused on leveraging it to enable employees to focus on value adding tasks. It’s the notion of AI as the ‘Co-pilot’, helping to guide people and make them more productive. There was a fantastic demo of MS Word with ‘Co-pilot’ (which is set to be released across the M365 product range) and how prompts can be used in various ways.
- Achieving growth & innovation at speed – How can organisations achieve growth through a technology mindset? It’s a question that especially resonated with me as the clients I support try to balance the need to innovate with the pressure that an impending SAP ‘burning platform’ (such as the retirement of support for an ERP on-premise system) places on them to leap into action too soon. There is often a tension between investing in growth on the one hand and optimising operational efficiency on the other. But in fact, there needn’t be – the key to realising a transformation’s full value is to ensure it stays aligned to the initial business case. Implementing the tech can often be the ‘easy’ part. It’s stakeholder engagement and adoption of the new technology, along with continued alignment to the organisation’s strategic goals, that are harder to achieve – but they are central to success, where technology and growth can exist hand in hand.
- Avoiding burnout: looking after your mind and body – Lastly, I wanted to call out a session I attended on looking after one’s mental and physical wellbeing. That’s so important in the fast-paced environment we all work in. The panel emphasised that technology has a growing role to play in helping us stay healthy so we can continue to innovate and thrive. It’s something that’s very much in KPMG’s own culture too, with several initiatives aimed at ensuring our teams stay active, healthy and well.
I came away with a reinvigorated mindset and I think that’s true of most people there. Technology is central to the business agenda, has the power to positively transform many aspects of society, and is the seeding ground of so much human innovation and creativity. It’s something to be celebrated, although it’s key to ensure the governing principles and parameters are right.